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顾虔凡 | 魏晓光谈“持久像素” | Artforum

2017.11.05

艺术家魏晓光正在纽约SLEEPCENTER举办个展“持久像素”(Durable Pixels),展览中的一系列画作以极其逼真的手法描绘虚构的场景、荒谬的物件拼贴、甚至对电脑拟像进行写实,他通过绘画对抽象与叙事、心理层面的内外观照、绘画的历史与当下的新媒介等议题进行探讨。展览期间,魏晓光还与艺术家Jeffrey D’Alessandro持续进行一项在绘画与雕塑间跨越媒介的合作。在采访中,魏晓光谈及对自己作品“数码样式主义”的定义,他在绘画中想要呈现的不合理现实,以及他对绘画媒介本身的思考。

“像素”除了指我们通常理解的影像在屏幕显示的基本单位之外,它原本的词义是“图像的元素”。图像是通过笔触、尺幅、版本、屏幕、风格等各种元素而被人感知的,它们都是图像的载体。这次展览的概念以图像的元素为基本出发点,我想关注这些元素本身的局限,而不是预先假定其发展的无限性。

在艺术史上,欧洲绘画的样式主义(Mannerism)侧重于对文艺复兴大师风格的模仿,因为本身没有提供更新迭代的内容而受到批判。反观中国艺术,如果后来者没有首先师承前人,甚至都无法被审美语系所接受。书法、国画、京剧等中国传统的艺术形式,其内容涵义和风格在创作时已经锁定在表达系统的框架中,比如每个人写出的字意思是相同的,京剧脸谱的图案是程式化的;但是像《肚痛帖》这种文本含义没有太多艺术性的便笺反而突出了张旭的草书,使表现元素本身成为经典。对我来说,“样式主义”的意义,就是带着对表达系统的局限性的意识进行创作。实质上,中国书法的核心概念同波普艺术中贾斯珀·琼斯(Jasper Johns)画国旗、标靶,安迪·沃霍尔(Andy Warhol)画梦露的意义相通,二者都是本体论艺术。当图像的元素高于内容的时候,就会形成“样式”。它并不是一件坏事,它有可能让创作者打破范式跳脱出来,去回顾样式的起承,然后进行重新发明。对图像元素局限性的理解,在当下数码媒介的演化中也有反映,比如早期电子游戏的制作力求场景的逼真,但是当整个行业可以轻易呈现相当程度的现实感时,以往开发者试图抹去的方块像素反而被审美化,成为了新的样式,像是2012年左右开始流行的《我的世界》(Minecraft)等。

我常把自己近期的绘画作品界定为“数码样式主义”。这次展览中,《无题(山洞)》(2017)可以作为这一概念的入口,这件作品通过将两种历史性绘画风格并置而制造冲突的同时,建构出新的现实感。其他几件作品中出现的“EDUCATION”和“忍”字,都是代表极端确切概念的词,由于司空见惯,反而让人难以审视它们的涵义。数码建模的文字被置于不同的虚拟情境,凸显了字面意义微弱的转换。《监狱》(2015)也直白地表现了由不同绘画技法构建出的叙事,以此询问图像元素与现实的关系:现实感是否只是我们乐意接受的某一个“版本(version)”。

在媒介更替极速加剧的当下,同样的叙事内容通过媒介更新而呈现出不同的版本;而版本演化本身,是否已经开始替代艺术家的设计,成为新的艺术演化动力?在 “绘画已死”的艺术史时期,我认为绘画当然仍有可能带给人新的视觉经验,而对图像元素有限性的意识,总是把我带回绘画最原初的问题:画什么、怎么画。

— 文/ 采访/顾虔凡

https://artforum.com.cn/words/10961

Source: https://artforum.com.cn/words/10961

Siqiao Lu | Twenty-First-Century Oracles: Interview with Mountain River Jump! | ArtAsiaPacific

2017. 7. 17

The identical twin sisters who make up the artist-duo Mountain River Jump! debuted in New York City. Their solo show “Reality Check 鬥法” transformed a Chinatown basement into a ritual space, where they played the roles of astrologer and shaman. Amid the installations of personalized tarot cards, a ceremonial fire GIF, and a video of star charts at Monroe Street’s art lab Sleepcenter, I met up with Guangzhou-based Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) and Huang He (Yellow River), whose names uncannily allude to the grandeur of the Chinese nation. The artists offered a birth chart reading, and I had the chance to ask them about the trajectory of their practices.

In this interview with ArtAsiaPacific, Mountain River Jump! discuss how their common interests and unique knowledge system prompted them to form an artist duo, how they connect the culture of divination with collective psychology, politics and visual culture, how ancient methods of image making and ritual practice have influenced their understanding of art, and finally, what they struggle with in their material and spiritual lives as young professionals in China.  

Your works in this show tell me that each of you has a distinctive path shaped by different conceptual questions and practical approaches. Before 2016, you mostly worked separately and only collaborated a few times. What prompted the decision to officially form an artist duo?  

River: Mountain River Jump! started in January 2016 at Guangzhou’s 5art Space. Our shared interests—spirituality, divination and the supernatural—are outside of the dominant culture, and uncommon in contemporary art practices. The duo creates a zone for us to explore questions that I previously considered inappropriate to discuss in my work because they are personal and sometimes bizarre. Our current direction with this platform is cultural psychology and collective unconscious.

Which of your earlier ideas have continued to draw your attention?

River: My works focus on the gradual evolution from my personal psychology to collective psychology. I made drawings about collective memory—Point at. . . (2016), for example, depicts the situation in which several people point at one individual, calling him a dog, and he somehow becomes a dog. I’m influenced by Carl Jung’s idea of collective unconscious, and believe that this is what the so-called “subcultural” phenomenon of divination is fundamentally about. Although we observe the common need for divination—astrology as the most popular form—it is still a hidden stream of thoughts running underneath the intellectual discourse.

I think Roland Barthes is quite right to criticize the way astrology has become “the literature of the petit bourgeois world,” but I still want to explore the connection between Wu Xing (Five Elements) and contemporary politics. Focusing on “the Star Chart” – Cultural Psychoanalysis (2017), the video installation in the show, demonstrates my theory that the star arrangement on the Chinese national flag relates to the feudal idea of the divine right of kings.

Mountain: I work with ancient imageries. Modeled after pre-modern divination cards, Chinese Immortal Cards of the 21st Century (2016–17) associates the professions of ancient immortals with contemporary occupations, indicating that a certain professional identity corresponds to a specific worldview or personality.

Unlike the images surrounding us nowadays that function primarily as decoration, ancient ones embody sacred beliefs and manifest the people’s attachment to the spiritual realm—as seen in archeological sites from Mawangdui to the Shang tomb of Fu Hao. Previously, I’ve made GIF amulets, downloadable from computers and cellphones, to respond to contemporary fears and needs, such as the fear of random computer crashes, and demands on the progress of the feminist movement. Behind the GIF amulet is shamanic thinking, a suggested positive approach to conceptualize one’s desires and requests. Ancient paintings with spiritual functions were sometimes painted by shamans. Thus, our methodology may bring us closer to the original purpose of art-making.

Divining the future using Chinese Immortal Cards of 21st Century and other sets of animal cards is not your first time fusing artistic gesture with spiritual practice. In the light of your collaboration with Cao Fei in A Three Day Treatment: Feng Shui Cleansing (2011), how have you evolved since? 

Mountain: I find the 30-minute cleansing ritual quite naïve now. We gathered objects with cleansing functions, such as spice, mineral salt and water, and placed them within the space according to the five elements. The audience watched attentively and followed us while we were moving around.

River: Similar to the performance, which is a personalized ritual based on the classic model, our current approach to divination cards have predecessors in the ancient times. The texts and images on these cards function as oracles, the subject of which is specific to a cultural episode—for instance, the Oracle of Kuan Yin (also called lottery poetry) often quotes plots from popular novels, such as the classics Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dream of the Red Chamber. Ancient intellectuals, who share the same beliefs with the commoners, sometimes invent a set of lottery poetry for the enjoyment of literary elegance. We originally wanted to investigate the cultural history of language through Cards of Chinese Animal Idioms: Legends in Human World (2017), but ended up using it in divination in order to have some kind of interaction with our audience.

In conjunction with this exhibition, you led a small cultural anthropology field investigation group to visit and pray at a dozen temples in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The locality and itinerary of this exhibition and its programs contribute to the integration of the artistic practice into the larger social realm. Can you tell us more?

River: Rui Lin, the curator, designed the course of this investigation. I find that co-existing temples of different styles and distinctive characters testify to the complexity of communities in Chinatown. We know that the temple previously on the ground floor of Sleepcenter preserves the original images and statues from one of the three boats that came from a temple in Fuzhou; the other two boats sank. People constructed these sites out of the desire for security and cultural identity, and they manage to maintain prosperous fronts for these temples despite the heavy history of immigration. The story is quite touching.

What are the challenges of creating works that treat spirituality as the primary subject in China? Who are the artists that inspired you? Do you think the so-called “religious revival” in China will benefit your practice?

Mountain: There are many challenges. Despite our persistent efforts in presenting our work as a specimen of comparative cultural studies, our audience insists that it is only about fortune telling. And we began to understand the severity of cultural discontinuity in China—most people don’t know the ancient immortals’ names, let alone their professions. I find Lu Yang’s audacious use of images encouraging. She is also a follower of Tibetan Buddhism.

River: The religious revival in China is a managed and controlled revival, which provides little room for new discoveries. It is more about tourism and psychological comfort. I’m inspired by Yin-Ju Chen, an artist from Taiwan, and Chinese artist Zheng Guogu.

Are there any new exhibitions or projects coming up? Can you give us a preview of something that you’re working on now?

Mountain: Recently, I showed Inanimate Sattva (2017) at Canton Gallery. This work incorporates stickers of animated characters that I put a lot of effort into making when I was a video game designer. Inspired by the idea of animism, I wanted to develop a dialogue between animate and inanimate matter through these cartoon characters endowed with my life. The autobiographical video installation also reflects the harsh living conditions of young professionals in China. 

River: Contrary to the usual portrayal of the youth as consumers, Mountain presents them as producers. I’m researching the connection between the myth of the dragon and a sea creature.

Source: http://artasiapacific.com/Blog/TwentyFirst...

Howie Chen | Mountain River Jump! | Artforum

2017.06.30

We are in a struggle of competing realities. The Guangzhou-based collective Mountain River Jump!—comprising identical twin sisters Huang Shan and Huang He—locates this conflict in a dimension where transcendent forces govern complex relations in our world. “REALITY CHECK 鬥法” is an exhibition bearing two names (the Chinese portion can mean “battle of magical powers”), embodying the strange agonism at play. A series of sculptural and diagrammatic works presents a syncretic cosmology that analyzes the mythical, political, and technological realms we experience.

In Chinese Immortal Cards of the 21st Century, 2016–17, a circular cosmogram made of divination cards maps the crossroads of traditional beliefs and secular modernity. Each card connects a modern cultural icon with an esoteric Chinese god. High-profile figures such as movie actors, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals represent various themes, including death, power, and justice. In this new mythical universe, the ascendance of technology is undeniable. On one card, the image of the world in ancient Chinese cosmology is replaced by Instagram’s logo. This syncretic system becomes a tool for Mountain River Jump! to interpret the meshing of traditional, Communist, and Western life. Each scenario in the exhibition demonstrates how this divinatory practice is a form of cultural psychoanalysis—as both spiritual cartomancy and Western psychology have long sought access to a collective unconscious. The father/mother and Son of psychoanalysis, 2017, is a kind of Buddhist altar to this project, in which a lenticular image of Sigmund Freud and an image of the Greek urn containing his ashes face off under breast-like shrine lights.

This exhibition can be seen as an addendum to Bruno Latour’s concept of secular modernity, defined not only by the radical separation of natural and social phenomena but also by the exclusion of the supernatural. By combining these elements, including ghosts, their new worldview may be the true parliament of all things.

https://www.artforum.com/picks/id=69302

Xin Wang | Of Gentrifiers and Rice | Randian

2016.04.29

“CLAPBACK 2.Gently Weeps”

The familiar story of gallery-led gentrification in New York took a fetishistic turn with its latest expansion to Chinatown. Look no further than i-D’s romanticization of “garbage-laden streets” in a profile of the area’s new comers for your daily dose of hipster-doom. While most galleries and art spaces saw nothing more than cheap rent (and just about everything else) and a fusion oriental backdrop, the neighborhood has a way of interfering with what’s on show in the art spaces. Prototypes of joss-paper funerary offerings have been placed in pristine wall niches at James Cohen Gallery, where The Propeller Group’s vertiginous video of distinctly Vietnamese burial rituals is currently on view, in a funeral shop two storefronts down. Even for those sporadic initiatives that do intend to convene a critical commitment, the contrast between the place’s social and aesthetic density and the dearth of imagination in engaging with them is often astounding.

These annoyances set me up for a pleasant surprise at SLEEP CENTER, a project space founded by young artists Rui Lin and Kerim Zapsu at the southern edge of Chinatown (Monroe Street), ensconced among robustly local worship/community/ therapeutic centers. Its recent two-man show featured Hao Ni and Blake Hiltunen, and managed to congeal nicely the disparate sculptural practices of the two in their shared teasing of the sensual (if not the fetishistic) in disparate mediums. During the exhibition’s two-week run, Ni’s “Hickies”—a constellation of found images printed and transferred onto the wall—would remain fresh as Hiltunen’s wax-based “Double Self Portrait” underwent a grotesque metamorphosis induced by a hovering heat lamp. Sometimes one sensed a nod to Chinatown as an unlikely imaginary, which comes in a good range, too. Hiltunen’s readymade of a Styrofoam container lid delivers a deadpan and slightly sinister message: “Destroy Yourself.” Ni’s faux-rice sculptures—kneaded together with embroidered/patterned fabrics or forming a fabulous arch atop two bowls—assert an uncanny claim to monumentality. Another manifestation of this almost non-cynical sense of wonder is “Tiger”, also by Hao Ni; installed deep in the adjacent boiler room, a hologram image of the big cat is at once obscured and accentuated by a translucent floral scarf. It is gorgeous and unapologetic—not to mention extremely comfortable in its own skin.

http://www.randian-online.com/np_review/73722/?utm_source=Randian+Full+List&utm_campaign=993ee06e5b-2016-0429-editorial-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7ad1d28775-993ee06e5b-297275565